If you have back pain, skimping on good nutrition might be making things harder. A few changes can make a big difference for your spine.

See Lifestyle and Diet Tips for Healthy Bones

Diet and maintaining a healthy weight play a major role in back health.
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Food for Thought: Diet and Nutrition for a Healthy Back

Try these tips for a healthier back:

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of liquids helps the entire body function well, but has special importance for the spine and back. The spinal discs are mainly made up of water, and keeping them well hydrated helps improve flexibility, so they can perform their vital role as shock absorbers between the spinal vertebrae.

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2. Go for balance

If you favor comfort foods, with vegetables few and far between, it's time to branch out. You don't need to change everything overnight, but start working more leafy vegetables, whole grains, fish, avocados, and seeds into your diet. These foods are all great sources of magnesium, a key mineral in keeping bones strong and strengthening back muscles. Eating a wide range of foods helps your body get the needed vitamins and minerals.

See A Healthy Weight for a Healthy Back

3. Know your nutrients

Calcium is one of the best known nutrients for bone health, and can be key in preventing osteoporosis. It's best to get your calcium from foods, rather than supplements, if you can. Dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium.

See Calcium Is Needed for Strong Bones

Vitamin D goes hand-in-hand with calcium, helping the body absorb calcium. If you're low on vitamin D, you're not alone. Vitamin D occurs naturally in a limited number of foods, such as egg yolks and salmon, and low levels of vitamin D are common. Your doctor may suggest you take a daily supplement to be sure you're getting enough vitamin D.

See Calcium and Vitamin D Requirements

4. Watch what you drink

Learning what drinks to avoid can also give your back a break. Regularly drinking cola, for instance, can make it tougher for your body to absorb needed nutrients crucial in boosting bone strength. Alcohol can limit your body's ability to absorb calcium, so drinking in moderation—or not drinking—is best for your back.

If you decide on your own to boost your nutrition with supplements, be sure to keep the doctor posted. Supplements can interact with medications.

Learn more:

Weight Loss for Back Pain Relief

Sources of Calcium in Food